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Benevolent Kings; Humane Kings; Gate Guardians; Thunderbolt Holders; Emanations of Vajrapani; fierce and threatening poses to ward off evil spirits; one with mouth open, one closed, uttering AH and UN; sounds represent alpha & omega, beginning & end, birth & death

Niō, Nio (or Ninnō, Ninō)
仁王 (or 二王)

-- Agyō 阿形
Kongō Rikishi 金剛力士
Naraen Kongō 那羅延金剛
mouth open uttering "AH"
-- Ungyō 吽形
Misshaku Rikishi 密遮力士
Misshaku Kongō 密遮金剛
mouth shut uttering "UN"

Rénwáng
Renwang
Jen-Wang
仁王

Èrwáng
Erh-wang
二王

Vajrapani
Vajradhara
 Vajrayakṣa
Narendra
Narêndra
Narêndra-rāja

Inwang
인왕

Iwang
Yiwang
이왕

Chag na dor je, Channa Dorje, Ghuyapati, Sang wa'i dag po

CYPRESS WOOD, NIO GUARDIANS (Agyō & Ungyō)
Protectors Who Stand Guard Outside the Temple Gate
Sold as Pair (not sold separately)


PRICE = $890 Niō Guardians Set
+ $60 Shipping x 5% Tax = GRAND TOTAL $997.50


Nio Pair, Agyo and Ungyo.

  • Wood = Cypress (Jp. = Hinoki)
  • Size of Each, Centimeters = H 21.5, L-to-R 10.5, Front-to-Back 6.5
  • One with mouth open, the other with mouth closed. In Japan, each is named after a particular cosmic sound. The openmouthed figure is called "Agyō," who is uttering the sound "ah," meaning birth. His closed-mouth partner is called "Ungyō," who sounds "un" or "om," meaning death. Other explanations for the open/closed mouth include: (1) mouth open to scare off demons, closed to shelter/keep in the good spirits; (2) "Ah" is the first sound in the Japanese alphabet, while "N" (pronounced "un") is the last, so the combination symbolically represents all possible outcomes (from alpha to omega) in the cosmic dance of existence. The first letter in Sanskrit is "Ah" as well, but the last is "Ha." Nonetheless, the first and last sounds produced by the mouth are "Ah" (mouth open) and "M" (mouth closed). The Japanese "n" and the Sanskrit "m" sound exactly the same when hummed with mouth closed. The spiritual Sanskrit term AHAM thus encapsulates the first letter-sound "A," the last letter-sound "HA," and the final sound "M" when the mouth is closed. 
  • These two guardian kings are also known in Sanskrit as Vajrapani (or Vajradhara), a term meaning "holder of vajras" or "thunderbolt holder." Vajrapani is the keeper of all tantras of Vajrayana Buddhism, a form of Buddhism practiced mainly in Tibet and among Japan's esoteric sects. In Japan, the Nio are also known as Kongō Rikishi and Shitsukongō-shin. For more on the Nio, see Nio background notes or visit the A-to-Z Photo Dictionary (outside link).


Nio Temple Guardians, Agyo and Ungyo


Nio Temple Guardians, Agyo and Ungyo
The Nio Pair - Agyo with open mouth, Ungyo with closed mouth

Ungyo Closeup
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